Folklore

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The Mothman Festival is an annual gathering commemorating the visit of the mysterious entity known only as “The Mothman.”

This event is held every third weekend in September that commemorates the 1966 Point Pleasant, West Virginia Mothman sighting, which gave birth to the infamous red-eyed winged legend. People from all over the world gather to celebrate their favorite cryptid during this one of a kind event.

A Terrifying Tale

In November 1966, gravediggers working in a cemetery in Clendenin, West Virginia, spotted a strange, man-like figure in the trees above their heads.

A few days later, two young couples from Point Pleasant reported being chased by a large creature with 10-foot wings whose eyes “glowed red” while driving near a former military munitions site outside town.

Sightings of what area newspapers dubbed the “Mothman” continued throughout the next year, oftentimes leaving witnesses with a deep sense of dread. Many locals believed the Mothman lived in a vacant nuclear power plant outside Point Pleasant, perhaps the escaped product of some secret government experiment.

The sightings came to an abrupt halt in December 1967, however, after a horrific tragedy in Point Pleasant. The Silver Bridge—which carried U.S. Route 35 over the Ohio River—collapsed on under the weight of heavy rush hour traffic, killing 46 people.

Coincidence?

The fact that the collapse was later attributed to a faulty suspension chain didn’t stop the conspiracy theories. In 1975, writer John Keel wrote a book titled The Mothman Prophecies linking the bridge collapse with the Mothman sightings. In it, Keel suggested that the sightings were actually bad omens about the impending bridge collapse.

In 2002 the book was turned into a movie starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, and the spooky West Virginia legend exploded onto the national stage.

The small town of Point Pleasant fully embraced its most famous resident, welcoming the annual Mothman Festival in 2002, installing a 12-foot metallic statute of the creature in 2003, and opening the Mothman Museum and Research Center in 2005.

And in the news…

Hunters in Mason County may need to be on the lookout for something other than deer when they hit the woods this week.

The Point Pleasant Mothman is a local legend that over the years has gained worldwide fame.

There hadn’t been any recent sightings of the red-eyed creature recently, but that changed Sunday evening, when a man who says he was driving along State Route 2 saw something jump from tree to tree. He pulled off the road and snapped some pictures.

The man declined an on-camera interview, but was adamant the pictures had not been doctored. He said he recently moved to Point Pleasant for work and didn’t even know about the legend.

In the pictures, the creature appears to have wings with pointed tips and long legs, bent at an awkward angle.

Point Pleasant locals such as Carolin Harris believe the pictures could be real because there have been so many other sighting over the years.

“I definitely know the Mothman is real,” Harris said.

Harris has owned The Mothman Diner in Point Pleasant for 48 years. She also helped start the Mothman Festival. Harris said there have been too many sightings of the Mothman for her not to believe.

“First responders and the sheriff’s department that I talked to definitely made a believer out of me.” Harris said.

Some believe The Mothman is a bad omen, only appearing when catastrophe is about to strike. There have been many claims the winged, red-eyed creature was seen right before the Point Pleasant Silver Bridge collapsed in 1967.

Harris has met many Mothman believers over the years who visit her diner.

On Monday, Karen and Ralph Smith were patrons at the diner. The couple was traveling from Florida to Pennsylvania, but decided to stop off in Point Pleasant to visit the Mothman Museum.

Karen Smith said she hopes she can add herself into the “believer” category.

“You have eyewitnesses. It does have the potential to be real, and I want to believe,” Smith said.

The Smiths said the Mothman pictures look real to them. So Eyewitness News asked Jeff Wamsley, the local Mothman expert and owner of the Mothman Museum.

Wamsley said with modern technology, it’s almost impossible to know for sure if the pictures are real.

Whether the pictures are real or not, the benefits the legend of the Mothman brings to the town of Point Pleasant are very real.

“It’s a good thing. It brings lots of people to the area. He’s here to stay,” Harris said.

The Wikipedia Story

On November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights picked it up. They described it as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings”, following their car while they were driving in an area outside of town known as “the TNT area”, the site of a former World War II munitions plant.

During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firemen who saw it said it was a “large bird with red eyes”. Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a “shitepoke”.

Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed “like bicycle reflectors”, and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature.

Wildlife biologist Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that descriptions and sightings all fit the sandhill crane, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven-foot wingspan featuring circles of reddish coloring around the eyes. The bird may have wandered out of its migration route, and therefore was unrecognized at first because it was not native to this region.

Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand notes that Mothman has been widely covered in the popular press, some claiming sightings connected with UFOs, and others claiming that a military storage site was Mothman’s “home”.

Brunvand notes that recountings of the 1966–67 Mothman reports usually state that at least 100 people saw Mothman with many more “afraid to report their sightings” but observed that written sources for such stories consisted of children’s books or sensationalized or undocumented accounts that fail to quote identifiable persons.

Brunvand found elements in common among many Mothman reports and much older folk tales, suggesting that something real may have triggered the scares and became woven with existing folklore. He also records anecdotal tales of Mothman supposedly attacking the roofs of parked cars occupied by teenagers.

Conversely, Joe Nickell says that a number of hoaxes followed the publicity generated by the original reports, such as a group of construction workers who tied flashlights to helium balloons. Nickell attributes the Mothman stories to sightings of barn owls, suggesting that the Mothman’s “glowing eyes” were actually red-eye effect caused from the reflection of light from flashlights or other bright light sources.

Benjamin Radford points out that the only report of glowing “red eyes,” was secondhand, that of Shirley Hensley quoting her father.

According to University of Chicago psychologist David A. Gallo, 55 sightings of Mothman in Chicago during 2017 published on the website of self-described Fortean researcher Lon Strickler are “a selective sample”. Gallo explains that “he’s not sampling random people and asking if they saw the Mothman – he’s just counting the number of people that voluntarily came forward to report a sighting.” According to Gallo, “people more likely to visit a paranormal-centric website like Strickler’s might also be more inclined to believe in, and therefore witness the existence of, a ‘Mothman’.”

Some pseudoscience adherents (such as ufologists, paranormal authors, and cryptozoologists) claim that Mothman was an alien, a supernatural manifestation, or a previously unknown species of animal. In his 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, author John Keel claimed that the Point Pleasant residents experienced precognitions including premonitions of the collapse of the Silver Bridge, unidentified flying object sightings, visits from inhuman or threatening men in black, and other phenomena.

Festival and Statues

Point Pleasant held its first Annual Mothman Festival in 2002. The Mothman Festival began after brainstorming creative ways for people to visit Point Pleasant. The group organizing the event chose the Mothman to be center of the festival due to its uniqueness, and as a way to celebrate its local legacy in the town.

According to the event organizer Jeff Wamsley, the average attendance for the Mothman is an estimated 10–12 thousand people per year. A 12-foot-tall metallic statue of the creature, created by artist and sculptor Bob Roach, was unveiled in 2003. The Mothman Museum and Research Center opened in 2005.

The festival is held on the third weekend of every September, hosting guest speakers, vendor exhibits, pancake-eating contests, and hayride tours of locally notable areas.

In June of 2020, a petition was started to replace all Confederate statues in the United States with statues of Mothman. As of July 2020, the petition has garnered over 2,000 signatures.

Sources:

According to the English poet T.S. Eliot, April is a turning point, at which the past and the future are seen as one; when, in northern climes at least, Lilac bushes burst into bloom on dusty waste ground or beside railway tracks as the rain brings to life new growth.

  • Theme: Beginnings
  • Plant Energy: Daisy – for a fresh start and new projects.
  • Crystal Power: Diamond – for clarity and empowering goals.

The month was named Aprilis by the Romans, but the origins of the name are still obscure. The traditional belief of its origin stems from the Latin verb aperire, “to open,” an allusion to trees and flowers beginning to open or to flower from buds.

Since some of the Roman months were named in honor of divinities, and as April was sacred to the goddess Venus, it has also been suggested that Aprilis was originally Venus’s mouth, from an ancient combination of her Greek goddess name, Aphrodite, to arrive at her springtime aspect as Aphrilis.

As the sun continues to make its way through the zodiac, it stays in Aries until about the 20th. The first part of the month is still about a feisty, “let’s get things done” energy. This period is about action and is filled with self-motivated people who are as self-centered and conceited as the fiery influence of Mars.

But as the sun moves across the cusp of Taurus, the energy changes to that of Venus. Venus rules Taurus, complementing this earth sign’s symbols of beauty, vanity, good looks, attraction, seduction, feminine wiles, and the concerns of the body and sexuality.

In the late Middle Ages throughout the fashionable European courts, favored sorcerers and witches concocted aphrodisiacs, potions, poisons, particularly in Aprils as it was thought to be a month auspicious for providing male heirs.

The tradition of celebrating virility, along with the magickal generation of sexual stamina and subsequent fertility, were themes based on the ancient fertility festivities of pagan Europe as the first of May approached.

The first few weeks of April were ruled by the virile Ram God, followed by the fertile Cow Goddess, both symbols of various pagan cultures and still invoked by modern day witches. This is why April is a month when desires quicken, the heat rises, and the tonic is needed to leave memories behind and start afresh.

Spells and rituals for April, therefore, tend to be all about moving on and beginning a new way of living, loving, or just being.

From: Spells For A Magical Year

The Mourning Moon is upon us. As the days grow shorter and the sun’s life-giving fires are banked, sometimes it seems so dark we feel the light will never return. This moon, however, is a reminder that death is just a part of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

It’s also known as the Fog Moon or Snow Moon, depending on where you live. Some Native American tribes referred to it simply as The Moon When Deer Shed Antlers (although in most regions it’s more accurate to say they’re shedding their velvet – a buck doesn’t usually lose antlers until later in the winter, unless you’re very far north).

Correspondences:

  • Colors: Gray, blues
  • Gemstones: Lapis lazuli, turquoise, topaz
  • Trees: Cypress, alder, hazel
  • Gods: Bastet, Isis, Kali, Hecate, Astarte
  • Herbs: Thistle, betony, verbena, fennel
  • Element: Water

In the early Celtic society, November was the beginning of the new year, and so it makes sense to use the magic of this moon phase to celebrate new beginnings.

This is a time of washing away the baggage of the past and letting it go. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to focus on the joys of the future. During the Mourning Moon phase, say goodbye to bad habits and toxic relationships, and get a fresh start for the new year. Work on developing and strengthening your connection with Spirit.

source

The Dark of the Moon, those few days where the moon is not visible, just prior to the rebirth of the New Moon, are controversial. Some traditions will not cast spells during this period. Others. particularly those devoted to Dark Moon spirits like Hekate or Lilith, consider this a period of profound magickal power which may be exploited as needed.

In Arabic folk custom, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on moon phases. Whatever you find yourself doing at the moment when you first catch a glimpse of the brand new moon is the right thing for you to do.

More New Moon Lore:

  • Almost every culture believed that if the New Moon came on Monday (Moon-day) it was a sign of good weather and good luck.
  • Two new moons in one month were said to predict a month’s bad weather.
  • Any new moon on a Saturday or Sunday was said to predict rain and general bad luck.
  • Good luck will come your way if you first see the New Moon outside and over your right shoulder. You can also make a wish that will be granted. The best luck came from looking at the Moon straight on.
  • In some parts of Ireland, upon seeing the New Moon, people bowed or knelt, saying: O Moon, leave us as well as you found us.
  • Upon seeing the New Moon, bow to her and turn over the silver or coins in your pocket. This will bring you luck in all your affairs.
  • If the New Moon is seen for the first time straight ahead, it predicts good fortune until the next New Moon.
  • To encourage luxuriant growth, cut your hair on the New Moon.
  • Wood cut at the New Moon is hard to split.
  • The English had a saying that if a member of the family died at the time of the New Moon, three deaths would follow.
  • Although the Koran expressly forbids worshiping the Sun or Moon, many Muslims still clasp their hands at the sight of a New Moon and offer a prayer.

From: Moon Magick and other sources

Traditionally, the each of the first ten days after the New Moon has it’s own attributes and qualities. Here’s the folklore on each of those days:

 

First Day: A good day for new beginnings. To fall ill on this day means the illness might last a long while. A child born at this time will be happy, prosperous, and live long.

Second Day: A good day for buying and selling and for starting a sea voyage. Also a good time for hoeing and sowing.

Third Day: Crimes committed on this day are certain to be found out.

Fourth Day: A good day for building, construction, and home renovations. Also a good day to be born on if you want to enter politics.

Fifth Day: The weather on this day gives an indication of what to expect for the rest of the month. It’s a good day for a woman to conceive.

Sixth Day: The best day for hunting and/or fishing.

Seventh Day: A good day for meeting and falling in love.

Eighth Day: A sickness begun on this day was thought to be likely to cause death.

Ninth Day: If the Moon shines in your face on this day, you may have twisted features or go mad.

Tenth: People born on this day are likely to be travelers or have a restless spirit.

Other Days: A New Moon on a Saturday or Sunday indicates rain, as does seeing the outline of the whole Moon at the same time as a New Moon. Furthermore, should the horns of a New Moon point upwards then the weather will be fair for the next lunar cycle, but if they point down, you can expect rain.

~Real Witches’ Year

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or “Mooncake Festival.”

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar.  The moon festival is celebrated on the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, which sometimes falls in October. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.

The Moon Festival is full of legendary stories. Legend says that Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.

The Moon Festival is also a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romatic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. Even for a couple who can’t be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.

Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

  • Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
  • Putting pomelo rinds on one’s head
  • Carrying brightly lit lanterns
  • Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e
  • Planting Mid-Autumn trees
  • Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
  • Lighting lanterns on towers
  • Fire Dragon Dances
  • Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang’e floating to the moon.

Stories behind the festival can be found at Widdershins:

The Moon Cake Uprising

In late Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), people in many parts of the country could not bear the cruel rule of the government and rose in revolt. Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the different resistance forces and wanted to organize an uprising. However, due to the narrow search by government, it was very difficult to pass messages.

The counselor Liu Bowen later though out the great idea of hiding notes with “uprise on the night of August 15th” in moon cakes and had them sent to different resistance forces. The uprising turned to be very successful and Zhu was so happy that he awarded his subjects with moon cakes on the following Mid-Autumn Festival. Since then, eating moon cakes has been a custom on Mid-Autumn Festival.

Sources: Wikipedia and Travel China Guide

What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the October moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:

  • Blood Moon ~Mediaeval English, Neo-Pagan
  • Blood Moon Falling ~Janic (full)
  • Corn Ripe Moon ~Taos
  • Falling Leaves Moon ~Arapaho
  • Full Dying Grass Moon ~Algonquin Native American, Colonial
  • Harvest Moon ~When closest to the Autumnal Equinox
  • Hunter’s Moon ~Neo-Pagan, Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
  • Kentenha ~Mohawk
  • Leaf Moon ~Janic (dark)
  • Leaf Fall Moon ~San Juan, Native American
  • Long Hair Moon ~Hopi
  • Moon of the Changing Season ~other
  • Shedding Moon ~other
  • Snow Moon ~other
  • Spirit Moon ~other
  • Ten Colds Moon ~Kiowa
  • Travel Moon ~Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
  • Tugluvik ~Inuit
  • Vintage Moon ~other
  • White Frost Moon ~other
  • Windermanoth ~other
  • Wine Moon ~Mediaeval English
  • Winterfelleth Moon ~other
  • Winter’s Coming Moon ~other

Source

The Hunter’s Moon is so named because plenty of moonlight is ideal for hunters shooting migrating birds in Northern Europe. The name is also said to have been used by Native Americans as they tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.

Traditional association with feasting:

In the northern hemisphere, the Hunter’s Moon appears in October or November, usually in October. Traditionally, it was a feast day in parts of western Europe and among some Native American tribes, called simply the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, though the celebration had largely died out by the 18th century. There is a large historical reenactment by that name in Lafayette, Indiana during the early part of October 2010

Variation in time of moonrise:

In general, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, as it moves in orbit around Earth. All full moons rise around the time of sunset. The Harvest Moon (full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox) and Hunter’s Moon are special because — as seen from the northern hemisphere — the time of moonrise on successive evenings is shorter than usual. The moon rises approximately 30 minutes later, from one night to the next, as seen from about 40 degrees N. latitude, for several evenings around the full Hunter’s or Harvest Moons.

Thus there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise, around the time of these full moons. In times past, this feature of these autumn moons was said to help hunters tracking their prey (or, in the case of the Harvest Moon, farmers working in the fields). They could continue tracking their prey (or bringing in their crops) by moonlight even when the sun had gone down. Hence the name Hunter’s Moon.

The reason for the shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moon rises around the time of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon is that the orbit of the Moon makes a narrow angle with respect to the horizon in the evening in autumn, leading the Moon to higher positions in the sky each successive day.

Brightness and distance:

The Hunter’s Moon is not brighter, smaller or yellower than during other times of the year, but all full moons have their own special characteristics, based primarily on the whereabouts of the ecliptic in the sky at the time of year that they are visible.

The full moons of September, October and November, as seen from the northern hemisphere — which correspond to the full moons of March, April and May as seen from the southern hemisphere — are well known in the folklore of the sky.

Since the Moon’s sidereal period differs from its synodic period, the perigee of the Moon (the point where it is closest to the Earth) does not stay in sync with the phases of the Moon. Thus the Hunter’s Moon does not correspond to any special timing of the Moon’s distance from the Earth. This is why the Hunter’s Moon is not, in general, brighter than any other regular full moon.

Source: Wikipedia

October’s full moon is often referred to as the Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. The Blood Moon takes its name not from blood sacrifices, but from the old custom of killing and salting down livestock before the Winter months made it impossible to feed them. Only the choicest stock was kept through the cold season.

The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.

Coming right before Samhain, it’s a time when the nights are crisp and clear, and you can sense a change in the energy around you.

Correspondences:
  • Colors: Dark blue, black, purples, Deep Blue Green
  • Element: Air
  • Scents: strawberry, apple blossom, and cherry
  • Gemstones: Obsidian, amethyst, tourmaline, opal, beryl, turquoise
  • Herbs: Apple blossom, pennyroyal, mint family, catnip, Sweet Annie, thyme, catnip, uva ursi, angelica, burdock
  • Flowers: Calendula, marigold, cosmos
  • Trees: Apples, yew, cypress, acacia
  • Birds: Heron, crow, and robin
  • Animals: Stag, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion
  • Nature Spirits: Frost and plant faeries
  • Gods: Herne, Apollo, Cernunnos, Mercury, Ishtar, Astarte, Demeter, Kore, Lakshmi, The Horned God, Belili, Hathor
  • Powers/Advice: A time to work on inner cleansing, letting go karma, reincarnation, justice and balance.

This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit world are at its thinnest. Use this time for spiritual growth — if there’s a deceased ancestor you wish to contact, this is a great month to do it. Hold a séance, work on your divination, and pay attention to messages you get in your dreams.

Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Blood Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.

The Blood moon focuses around connecting with animals, and our animal totems and guides. Those who practice looking at the degrees of the lunar cycle may realize that this is the last time the moon will be at a later degree. This conjunction will allow many to look at life differently every time the new moon approaches and allowing us to look at past and the future at the same time.

This moon also forces us to look at love completely differently and ask the questions:

  • What is love?
  • Is the love you have unconditional?

That love does not have to be just in the areas of relationship but also our interaction with people, it can even be love of work and things you have acquired.

Additionally it means to be able to let it go of someone or something no matter how much you love it because it needs to be set free. The past years have reminded us that changes need to happen that this kind of life is no longer tolerant and peaceful. We will be reminded once again we can no longer walk in other people’s shadows.

Because this moon focuses around our animal nature, some of us may become very aggressive in what we say or do. It may cause many people to act out. This type of moon has been known for violence, suicides and domestic disputes over things that may or not exist – another reason it is known as the blood moon.

A Ritual For The Blood Moon

Here’s a nice little ritual to do for the Blood Moon.

You will need:

  • A special glass or chalice – something pretty
  • Rose water – or spring water
  • White cotton cloth
  • Red wine
  • Ripe pomegranate
  • Honey
  • Silver spoon

For this ritual it will be nice to dress up a little. Wear white or silver, and if you have it, silver jewelry with carnelian, or moonstone. Use a special glass or chalice.

Rinse the chalice with rose water and dry it with a clean white cotton cloth. Pour the cup of red wine into the chalice, slice the pomegranate in half and squeeze the juice into the wine. Add a teaspoon of honey, and stir with the silver spoon.

Go outside. If you are doing this with friends, form a circle. Lift the chalice in the direction of the moon and say a few words of praise, thanks, appreciation, whatever feels appropriate and right. Then take a sip of the wine and pass the chalice clockwise around the circle (if there is one). Each person “toasts” the Blood Moon and drinks.

When the circle is complete, pour the rest of the wine on the ground as a “libation” or offering to the earth.

Collected from various sources including: PaganWiccan.About.Com, Art by Beverly Ash Gilbert.

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